Niche Roundup – 15 Recommendations From the 2019 Steam Winter Sale

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It might be the final week of 2019, but that doesn’t mean that all the big holiday sales are over. The Steam Winter Sale runs until January 2nd, so there’s plenty of time to grab some last minute gifts for yourself, or to spend any Steam Wallet gift cards you may have received during the holidays.

Here’s 15 great deals from the current Steam Winter Sale:

Arma 3
Bohemia Interactive
$10.19 (66% off)

Arma 3 may be over six years old at this point, but its still going strong. A quick glance at the community hub shows over 13,000 players currently online, and Bohemia is still actively developing new content, be it free maps and modes, or huge expansion packs. There’s also a vibrant modding community, ensuring that there’s plenty of content to sink your teeth into. If you don’t mind overcoming the learning curve and getting stomped by people that have been with the game since release, now’s a good chance to give Arma 3 a try. All of the game’s DLC and expansions are also at least 25% off right now.

Insurgency: Sandstorm
New World Interactive, Focus Home Interactive
$14.99 (50% off)

Last year’s Insurgency: Sandstorm ended up being one of my favorite games of 2018, even if my review admitted that the game had a ton of bugs and performance issues. New World Interactive have gradually fixed a lot of the most glaring problems over the previous year, and have added some solid new maps, modes, and weapons. The game’s overall performance is still pretty shoddy, but I love the game enough to keep coming back to it over and over again.

Jurassic World Evolution
Frontier Developments
$8.99 (80% off)

Jurassic World Evolution is another game I gave a rather lukewarm review to, but even with the game’s many flaws, I still ended up playing it for over 40 hours. There’s quite a lot of content in the game, even before you start buying all the campaign expansions and dinosaur packs. The game’s sim elements and park decorations are disappointingly limited, but at 80% off I think its worth checking out if you just want to turn your brain off and build a dinosaur theme park for a few hours.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Monolith Productions, WB Games
$9.99 (50% off)

While the game’s story and Talion’s powers are no doubt causing Tolkien to roll in his grave, Shadow of Mordor is still a pretty fun open-world action game. The Nemesis system is a unique and interesting mechanic, and its a shame that it was so thoroughly tarnished in the sequel due to an overabundance of micro-transactions. This is the GOTY version too, so it includes all the DLC from the Season Pass.

Mad Max
Avalanche Studios, WB Games
$4.99 (75% off)

Mad Max didn’t exactly get the best reception when it originally released, but it eventually grew on a small subset of gamers and gained a bit of a cult following. I’ll fully admit that the game isn’t exactly spectacular, but for only $5 you can have a decent amount of fun as you drive around the wasteland ramming your car into roaming gangs of bandits.

Seasons after Fall
Swing Swing Submarine, Focus Home Interactive
$3.39 (66% off)

Seasons after Fall is a gorgeous 2D puzzle-platformer where you play as a fox with the ability to manipulate the seasons. This ability plays into the game’s puzzles, which generally involve figuring out which seasons affect the environment in just the right way so you can get past an obstacle or two. It’s a very flawed game that features a lot of backtracking later on, but its still a charming experience that you can easily complete over the course of a boring weekend.

Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
Moon Studios, Microsoft Game Studios
$7.99 (60% off)

Speaking of charming games set in beautifully-rendered enchanted forests, Ori and the Blind Forest is currently just $8. This is the Definitive Edition, which includes additional content like new powers, areas, challenges, and some quality of life enhancements. With the sequel finally releasing in less than three months, now is a good time to play through the original if you’ve never experienced it before.

Hollow Knight
Team Cherry
$7.49 (50% off)

Continuing the trend of action-platformers with adorable main characters, Hollow Knight is currently 50% off. That’s the cheapest I think I’ve ever seen the game, and the excellent soundtrack is also half-off. Hollow Knight has enough content to keep you occupied for a very long time, and that’s before dipping into the various level randomizer mods out there.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City
Endlessfluff Games
$4.49 (70% off)

Okay, this is the last 2D action-platformer on the list, I swear. Valdis Story: Abyssal City is a solid Metroidvania by a little-known indie dev that deserves more attention. The game has multiple characters, and tasks you with exploring the ruins of a holy city that was decimated in the great war between angels and demons. While it might not be as good as the previous few games I mentioned, its still worth experiencing if you are looking for a new Metroidvania to explore.

Defense Grid: The Awakening
Hidden Path Entertainment
$2.49 (75% off)

There are a lot of tower defense games on the market, and the original Defense Grid remains one of the best. Not content with just making a mechanically sound tower defense game, Hidden Path also added a humorous narrator and story to add greater context to each mission. The sequel is heavily discounted as well, but its much harder to recommend due to the developer’s attempt to monetize community-made maps.

Desktop Dungeon
QCF Design
$7.49 (50% off)

Desktop Dungeon is a fun and unique take on the roguelike formula. While the game is designed to be quick enough to play on your lunch break, that doesn’t make it any less difficult. The game uses exploration itself as a resource, forcing you to very carefully think out each move, deduce the most efficient order to kill each monster, and when you should move on to uncover more of the map.

Chroma Squad
Behold Studio
$7.49 (50% off)

Chroma Squad is a lighthearted turn-based tactics RPG where you are the director of a cheap Power Rangers knockoff TV show. Each mission is an episode of the series, and your primary objective isn’t just to survive and kill all the enemies, but also to keep your audience entertained. This often means performing flashy moves and overly complex maneuvers to build hype, pull in more viewers to please your investors, push merchandise sales, and gain the capital you need to expand your studio’s budget.

Into the Breach
Subset Games
$7.49 (50% off)

Another fun turn-based tactics game that is currently 50% off is Into the Breach. Created by the developers of FTL, Into the Breach is a roguelite where you must use your squad of mechs to defend Earth from an invasion of giant insect-like aliens. The game’s combat places a heavy emphasis on positioning and using the environment to your advantage. Many abilities and weapons don’t just deal damage, but also reposition yourself or your target. You can find our review here.

GRIP: Combat Racing
Caged Element, Wired Productions
$9.00 (70% off)

GRIP: Combat Racing is a fantastic high-speed futuristic racing game inspired by Rollcage. The game is still getting new content every now and then, though the online isn’t very active anymore. The game is still a blast even without the multiplayer, but hopefully the current discount will encourage more people to pick the game up soon. If you are desperate to find a match though, the developers do have a Discord you can join to meet other diehard fans.

Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark
6 Eyes Studio, 1C Entertainment
$14.99 (50% off)

Finally, we come to Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark, an awesome strategy RPG from earlier this year that sadly seems to have gone unnoticed by a lot of people. It contains just about everything you’d want from a proper, modern take on Final Fantasy Tactics, and received one of the highest scores of any game we reviewed this year. You can read our review here (We highly recommend it!).

If you are looking for more deals, you should check out some of our other articles about previous sales. Many of the deals are the same, with a few that are even more heavily discounted now.

What games will you be getting during the Steam Winter Sale? Sound off in the comments below!

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Frank was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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